In this new blog franchise, editors and test kitchen professionals will take on the DIY side of being a home cook to answer the question, "Is it really worth it?" In this update, editorial team member Hannah Klinger tackles making hamburger buns at home--just in time for National Hamburger Month.
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We love to make our own pickles and French fries, even grind meat for our own patties. But when it comes to buns, we just grab a bag from the bread aisle. So, in the spirit of National Hamburger Month, I wanted to find out: Is it worth it to make your own buns?
No, not really. They’re about as labor intensive as any from-scratch bread, meaning a very sticky dough, lots of kneading, and a couple hours rising time. Also, homemade buns like to spread…a lot. Next time I could try baking in a large muffin tin, but this might prevent an all over sheen from the egg wash.
Texture is number one when it comes to buns: They should be soft, almost pillowy. Manufacturers have a magic formula for achieving this (Refined flour? Steamed Buns?), but my homemade buns were too dense and chewy. A brioche dough might be a solution, but I’d rather save my calories for the patty.
Pricewise, the savings aren’t there. A package of 8 costs around $2, and the ingredients for homemade (including yeast) run about that much. You might be able to control the size and shape—these monsters might suit a Hungryman contest—but again, too much bun just distracts from the burger.
So if you’ve got the time and the gumption, go for it. But if you’d rather save a little time and sanity, stick to store bought.
Fun fact: In China, McDonalds hamburgers are advertised with much larger buns and just a sliver of meat. McDonalds found that Chinese customers preferred more bread (akin to steamed buns, or baos, a popular snack) and cared little about the filling.
How to Grind Your Own Hamburger and Make the Best Homemade Burger
The hamburger is quintessential American fare, but sadly it has been all but ruined thanks to fast food chains and mass-produced meat. Our image of a burger today usually consists of a greasy and unhealthy food you pick up from a window or dried out and flavorless items at a cookout. Of course you can get a pretty good burger at many restaurants, but you will typically pay a premium. While these are certainly an improvement, they usually still lack the quality of the burgers of yesteryear. I’m going to walk you through the process of grinding your own gourmet burger meat and in the process, save some money.
A burger is such a simple thing, so why are they constantly done so poorly? Let’s start with the main ingredient: ground beef. Go to any supermarket and you can find the shelves stocked with more ground beef than you can shake a stick at. You’ll find regular hamburger, ground chuck, ground sirloin, and sometimes a mixture of grinds. That’s all well and good, but if you knew how this meat was often put together you’d probably be quite put off. In fact, did you know that the typical package of ground beef at your supermarket may contain parts from hundreds of different cows? And in many cases, ground beef gets the lowest quality beef such as old dairy cows and parts of the animal you don’t even want to imagine. Ground chuck is better since you at least know you’re getting chuck meat, but that’s about where the added quality ends. And in many stores, the butchers make their own ground beef by taking all the unsold and dated cuts on the shelves and grinding them up to resell as hamburger. Sure, it’s safe to eat, but not what I’d call fresh.
I'm going to show you how to make all of this for less than $2.50
While the meat itself is a large component of quality, it’s the person doing the cooking that makes matters even worse. There are four cardinal sins when it comes to making hamburger, and most home cooks commit one or more of these regularly:
- Don’t overwork the meat.
- Don’t over season the meat
- Don’t flatten the meat with a spatula.
- Don’t over cook the meat.
Let me address these briefly. The first problem is overworking the meat. When people make patties at home they have a tendency to mix the meat up with their hands so much that the texture almost becomes a paste instead of retaining the small ground chunks. This is the number one reason you end up with tough burgers with an unpleasant texture. Next up is the seasoning. Don’t get cute and think by adding twenty spices that you’re going to overcome everything else that goes wrong. Like a quality steak, if done properly you want just a tiny bit of basic seasoning to enhance the natural flavor of the meat. After preparing the burger it’s time to cook it, and that’s where flattening and overcooking the meat comes in. DON’T push on your patties with the spatula while on the grill and force all the juice and moisture out. That’s where the flavor comes from. And finally, burgers cook faster than most people realize, so overcooking is probably one of the biggest problems. If you’ve ever had those hard hockey puck burgers at a friend’s BBQ party, you know what I’m talking about. To give you an idea, a 3/4″ patty on a hot grill will probably be more than well done in just ten minutes. How many times have you, or seen someone else, standing over a grill flipping burgers for 20 minutes at a time? It’s no wonder they become dry and tasteless.
Choosing a Grinder and Meat
Now that you know what not to do I bet you can already take your existing burger recipe and improve the end product by 100 percent. But we still need to address the quality of the meat. If you want to control quality, you’ll need either a trusted local butcher, but since those are hard to come by these days your best bet is to grind your own hamburger meat. By doing so you can pick the freshest cuts of meat, adjust the fat content how you see fit, and control the size of the grind. With pre-packaged ground beef you’re at the mercy of many other factors.
First things first, you need something to grind the meat with. You basically have three main options: a hand-crank grinder, a stand mixer with a grinding attachment, or a food processor. If you already have any of the three, you’re in luck. If you don’t, then you’ll have to find one. Honestly, I love both my food processor and stand mixer, and they get used regularly. But not for grinding meat. I’m old school and use a century old hand crank that clamps to your counter top. If you’re on a budget or just starting out, I’d recommend one of these as well. In fact, you can often find them at garage sales or second-hand stores for about five bucks. Otherwise, you’ll probably have to spend $25-40 on an entry level new grinder.
Now it’s time for meat selection. What cuts of meat work best for grinding your own burgers? Really, the choice is yours, but a good starting point is chuck steak (or roast if you are making a lot of burgers). That’s because chuck already has a pretty good meat to fat ratio of about 80/20, which is the sweet spot for burgers. But this is where you can get creative and mix and match cuts of meat to give you the ultimate in flavor and texture. I know a lot of people claim brisket makes the absolute best burgers, so experiment and see what you like best. Just keep in mind that you do need some fat in the burger, so if you go with very lean cuts you’ll probably want to add back in fat of some sort.
Pay attention to cost, but don’t get hung up on it. It’s hard to compete with $1.89/lb bulk hamburger at the supermarket, but remember, we’re after high-quality gourmet style burgers, so comparing to that is apples and oranges. So buying higher quality cuts of meat may be closer to $3 or even $4/lb, but that’s still a steal. Think of it this way: a pound of meat will make three 1/3 pound burgers, so even at $3.50/lb you’re only really paying $1.17 for a burger that will will rival the quality of a $15 burger at a decent restaurant. Now that’s savings! And here’s another tip to help you save money. Check with the butcher behind the meat counter and ask if they have any fat scraps in the back. A lot of times they will have fresh fat trimmings that you can get for free since they often discard most of it. With free fat you can then just buy whatever lean cut of meat you want to mix with it.
How to Grind Your Own Burger
Have your grinder and meat? Good. It’s time to get to work. To see how simple this process and recipe is, look at everything you need below. It includes a grinder, a one-pound chuck steak, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. That’s it. No getting fancy and putting a dozen ingredients into the meat that will only mask the flavor of the beef because we want the beef to be the star.
Step 1: Cube the meat: Before running the meat through the grinder you’ll need to cut it into smaller and more manageable pieces. I just shoot for rough one-inch chunks. While you want to include the fat, be sure to trim away any silver skin or really hard gristle. That stuff can clog the grinder. Here is my chuck steak after cubing up:
One more tip before this meat hits the grinder: throw it into the freezer (unless you’re using a food processor for grinding). This is a step that most people miss and it only leads to frustration when trying to grind meat. So, put your cubed meat and grinder in the freezer for about 30 minutes. It won’t freeze completely, but it makes the meat quite stiff. You want to do this because the grinding process creates heat and what can happen is the fat starts to melt while you grind it along with creating more of a mushy texture in the final grind. That’s no good, so simply chill the meat and equipment in the freezer for a bit and your job will be much easier and you’ll have a better final product.
Step 2: Grind the meat: When you pull the meat out of the freezer it’s time to start grinding. Set up your grinder. If you’re using a hand-crank or stand mixer attachment you’ll be shooting for a medium to medium-coarse grind size. Holes around 1/4″ or a little smaller will be ideal. If you’re using a food processor you already skipped the freezer and can put your regular metal chopping blade on and do 1-2 second pulses to grind the meat to the right consistency. It’s better to work in small batches so you can get a consistent grind. If you’re using a regular grinder, start by loading a few chunks of meat into the hopper and start cranking. Watch those fingers and use something to push the meat down just to be safe. This is what your meat will look like as it comes out of the grinder:
Step 3: Seasoning the meat: Depending on your grinding method it may take a couple minutes per pound, but after all said and done you’ll be left with a bowl of perfectly ground meat. Seasoning the meat is simple and a lot of it will be up to your personal preferences, but remember from earlier that less is more. When you have a high-quality product to begin with you don’t need to use a bunch of added flavors to get something that tastes good. So my typical seasoning recipe is quite simple. Per pound of meat I usually add a couple tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, a few pinches of kosher salt, and a healthy dose of freshly ground black pepper. That’s it. If you’re used to adding a bunch of spices to your hamburger, I’d challenge you to start very simple like this first and see how you like it. You can always introduce new seasoning next time, but I think you’ll be surprised at the flavor of this and may never go back to your old recipe again.
Step 4: Making the patties: Another area that trips some people up is making the patties. After adding the seasoning don’t go in with your hands and pulverize the meat. All you need to do is use your fingertips to lightly mix and incorporate everything together. Remember, overworking the meat will make it tough and give it a bad texture. You want a light and fluffy burger, so go easy with it. The other trick to making patties is size. Too small and they are almost certain to dry out and get overcooked, but too big and they are unwieldy on the bun and harder to cook so that the center is done properly without the outside being overdone. The best starting point is about 1/3 of a pound per burger, or a little under six ounces. If you started with a known amount of meat (in my case one pound) you can portion it into thirds or quarters or whatever amount you had to give you a rough size. So for me, with a pound of meat I just divided it into three equal sized chunks and that gave me my 1/3 pound. You only have to do this once and then you’ll see the size of the ball of meat and will know for future patties how much you need to get close.
So, take your roughly third of a pound of meat and lightly roll it into a ball with your hands. Then work it into a patty with your thumbs and palms working from the center toward the edges. Again, we’re not looking to mash the meat so that’s why we’re using our fingers lightly and not putting it down on a cutting board and pressing it out or anything. When you’re done you should have about a 3/4″ thick patty that’s around 4-5 inches in diameter:
Step 5: Hitting the grill: You can cook your burger indoors in a skillet, but in my opinion the best way is over the open flame of a grill. It adds just one more dimension to the final flavor that can’t be replicated indoors, so that’s what I’m going to do here. The secret to a good grilled burger is high heat and a dimple (don’t worry, I’ll explain the dimple.). If you’ve ever cooked burgers on the grill before you’ve probably encountered the incredible swelling that sometimes occurs. You know, when you had a pretty consistent and flat patty to start only to end up with a small, yet super thick burger in the center. That’s no good, so that’s where the dimple comes in. When you put your burger on the grill use your thumb and push down in the center of the patty making a small dent or dimple. What this does is help control the shrinking that occurs and will give you a very consistent thickness across the patty when you’re done cooking. It took me years to learn about this trick, and it’s amazing how such a simple thing can work wonders.
So you’ve thrown your burger on the grill and dimpled it, now what? Close the lid on the grill and don’t touch it! You don’t have to constantly peek on its progress or flip it over fifty times in fear of burning. The burger will do its thing without you messing with it. I only flip my burgers once, and never, ever, push on them with the spatula. If I’m looking for a medium-well burger I’ll shoot for about eight minutes total cooking time on my grill. That’s just four minutes per side, flipping once halfway through. Sometimes for presentation sake when entertaining I’ll rotate the burger about 45-degrees after the first few minutes to get the nice crisscrossing grill marks. But if I’m just cooking for the family I usually don’t bother. Here is the burger just minutes away from being pulled from the grill. See how juicy it looks, and notice how it didn’t puff up in the center:
Step 6: Bonus corn on the cob tips: Before we assemble the burger I wanted to include how I made the side dish of grilled corn on the cob. There are many, many different ways to prepare corn on the cob, but whenever I grill the corn for guests or at a party I always get a lot of questions about how to do it. While there are a few different ways to grill corn, I’ll show you my favorite method that always goes over well with everyone.
First, I remove a few of the outer layers of the husk and then snip off the ends with a pair or scissors. Then I pull back the husk about 90 percent of the way so that it’s still attached at the base and remove as much of the silk as I can. Then the husk gets loosely folded back up over the corn. I like this method because it protects most of the corn from direct contact from the grill while still allowing a little charring and getting some of that smokiness to the kernels.
After you’ve prepared your corn go ahead and throw it into a large bowl or sink of cold water for about ten minutes. This step is optional and sometimes I soak it and sometimes I don’t. Soaking it just helps the husk from burning so quickly on the grill and produces a little less ash. But not soaking it won’t hurt anything and just give you more charred husk to deal with. After that it’s time to hit the grill. Again, using high direct heat the corn goes on and I usually give it about 15-20 minutes total with about a quarter turn every few minutes. Here is the corn about halfway through its cooking time:
And that’s it. Once it’s done just let the corn cool for a few minutes so it’s easy to handle and pull off the husks. You’ll be left with perfectly done corn on the cob that’s ready to be slathered in butter, salt and pepper, creole seasoning, or whatever you like to top it with.
Step 7: Assembling your burger: If you’ve followed all the above steps you’re ready to build your perfect homemade gourmet burger. When it comes to toppings there are few rules to follow. In fact, that’s the best part of just using a very simple seasoning on the meat itself, because it works with any combination of toppings. If you get too crazy with burger seasoning you can limit yourself somewhat in complimentary toppings. The only rule I have is to use good bread. Seriously, why go through the trouble of making a delicious hamburger only to slap it on the cheapest white bread bun available? Do yourself a favor and spend the few extra cents it costs to upgrade to a premium package of buns. For my burger I went with an onion and poppy seed bun and tossed them on the grill for about a minute just to toast them up nice.
Then go ahead and load it up with whatever you want. Here I used baby spinach, spicy mustard, a little ketchup, fresh slice of tomato, and a few pickles. But hey, it’s your burger, so go wild.
And here is the bad boy sliced open. Admittedly, it got real close to the well done stage, which I don’t particularly care for, but time got away from me while I was busy taking all the pictures for this post. But the good news is that when you make a burger properly by using fresh meat, don’t overwork it, and don’t squeeze all the juice out of it on the grill, you’ll still end up with the best and juiciest hamburger you’ve ever made even if it is well done.
Back at the beginning of this article I mentioned you could save money by grinding your own meat and building a gourmet burger. After all, this site is about saving money. I know some people will be quick to point out that better cuts of meat cost more, buying a grinder costs money, springing for fancy buns and toppings will add up, and it takes time to grind your own meat. That’s all very true, but keep in mind we’re not competing with bottom of the barrel mystery meat thrown on a tasteless white bun with just some ketchup and mustard. This is about creating a good restaurant quality meal for a fraction of the cost. In fact, one serving of this meal costs even less than a happy meal at McDonald’ s and it tastes a thousand times better and is even better for you.
Starting with the meat, I picked up a one-pound chuck steak for $3.89/lb. It wasn’t on sale and I could have saved money by using different cuts or getting some free fat from the butcher, but I wanted to stick with something easy off the shelf. $3.89 gave me three patties, so per serving that came to $1.30. I found an 8-pack of the onion buns for $2, so that’s 25 cents per serving. As for the spinach, it was just something left over in the fridge from a salad. A whole bag was about two dollars, so the topping for the burger maybe cost 10-20 cents at the most. And just one slice of tomato maybe cost another 20 cents. Pickles and all the other condiments were already stocked in the fridge and cost is negligible. Finally, corn on the cob was six ears for $2, so one ear was 33 cents. Obviously, costs will vary based on location and season, but there is a lot of margin to work with for saving money.
Adding it all up:
- Burger: $1.30
- Bun: .25
- Toppings: roughly .40
- Corn: .33
- Grand total = $2.28
Look at that. A gourmet hamburger with a side all for under $2.50! It’s cheaper than even the cheapest fast food burger and you’ll find that this burger tastes better than probably any expensive burger you’ve bought at a restaurant, where it isn’t uncommon to pay ten dollars or more for a burger with fries. Even at a cheap sit-down restaurant it’s hard to get a hamburger meal for under five or six bucks, so the savings and quality you’re getting is great. It’s time to change your idea of what a hamburger is and save money in the process. You’ll impress your friends and be on burger duty for gatherings for years to come.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.
- 4 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- ½ cup warm water
- 2 cups warm milk
- 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- 2 eggs
- 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ cup baking soda
- 4 cups water
- ¼ cup melted butter
- sea salt
Sprinkle the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar over 1/2 cup of warm water in a small bowl. The water should be no more than 100 degrees F (40 degrees C). Let stand for 5 minutes until the yeast softens and begins to form a creamy foam.
Add milk, shortening, eggs, oil, 3 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Blend with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Mix in remaining 3 cups of flour by hand, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. The dough will be sticky.
Lightly oil a large bowl, then place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a light cloth and let rise in a warm place (80 to 95 degrees F (27 to 35 degrees C)) until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Uncover the dough and punch it down.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Pull off baseball size portions of dough and roll into "snakes" about 6 inches long. Roll each "snake" into a spiral to give the tops some texture. Set each formed bun aside.
Mix the baking soda and 4 cups hot water in a bowl. The baking soda does not need to dissolve completely. Dip each bun in the baking soda solution before placing on a baking sheet. Brush each bun with melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in the preheated oven until brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack or brown paper bag.
Shaping hamburger buns
I mentioned in the above section that the buns are shaped, but how is that done? It’s surprisingly easy, once you get the hang of it. First, the big dough ball is cut into smaller dough balls, each about 80 grams. You should get about 12 from this recipe. Place a chunk on an un-floured surface, preferably with the freshly-cut (stickier) side down on the counter. Cup your hand and place it over the ball so that your hand is just touching the top of the dough ball. Then move your hand in a small circle, dragging/rolling the dough ball around inside the “cup.” You’ll feel the ball start to become more spherical, and then it will rather suddenly coalesce into a firm, smooth ball. Place it on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
Repeat this rolling process with all of the balls, then top the dough balls with another sheet of parchment and squish them so they are flattened with another sheet pan. The resulting discs will not be very big around and they certainly won’t be very flat (thanks gluten). Don’t worry, they’ll proof up perfectly.
If you’re as serious about burgers as I am, and I assume you are, then you really need to try this recipe out. Once you start making your own buns, you’ll never want the bagged grocery store variety again. If you can get the best buns with just a few hours of work, why would you want the sad, soggy ones? You wouldn’t!
Take up the challenge. Grind your meat, make your buns, fry up some fries, maybe even cure your own bacon. Make your burgers! If you can find a better burger out there in the world, you must absolutely write in and tell me about it. But don’t worry. You won’t. Yes, doing the whole thing from scratch is a lot of work, but if you want a glorious example of what is already a glorious food, then this is the best way to get it. And with the aid of your Thermapen, both your buns and your burgers will truly be their best.
Homemade hamburger buns
Some things are worth making from scratch. And burger buns? They’re absolutely one of them. When properly made, homemade burger buns are soft and pillowy, yet sturdy enough to support a burger or sandwich filling of any kind.
There are 10 key tips you need to know if you want to make perfect burger buns with light (yet sturdy) texture.
The good news? These tips are easy to master.
We’ll teach you how to make burger buns that will wow a crowd. Let's start by introducing you to a fantastic recipe.
A versatile recipe
Our Hamburger or Hotdog Buns recipe is a year-round favorite of many King Arthur Flour employee-owners, and we find ourselves baking it even more frequently during cookout season.
What’s to love? Its enriching ingredients, simple instructions, and generous yield. And of course, the buns’ tender, fluffy texture, to name a few things.
And better yet — you only need this one recipe to make either homemade hamburger buns or hot dog buns. Transform it into whatever shape you please using this one base dough.
Photo by Liz Neily
Today we’ll focus on tips and tricks to make the best homemade burger buns, but keep this recipe in your back pocket for when you want to make homemade hot dog buns too!
10 tips for homemade hamburger bun success
If you simply follow the instructions in our Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns recipe, you’ll end up with buns that you can use to build the sandwich of your dreams.
Photo by Liz Neily
Better yet, if you’re the kind of baker who likes to take things a step further, use these 10 tips to knock this recipe out of the park.
1. Try tangzhong
Tangzhong is an Asian bread baking technique that involves cooking some of the flour and liquid in the recipe together before mixing up the dough. This process transforms the starches and hydrates the dough. It makes yeast breads (including buns) super tender and moist, and also helps them stay fresh longer.
You can learn more about this method from my fellow blogger, PJ, in this post: Introduction to tangzhong.
If you’d like to give this technique a try and make extra-soft burger buns, check out the second baker's tip on the Hamburger or Hotdog Buns recipe page for details. You can also try converting your favorite burger bun recipe by following the guidelines provided in our post, How to convert a bread recipe to tangzhong.
2. Substitute some whole wheat flour
If you’re looking to boost the flavor of your homemade burger buns, consider replacing half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour.
For a more pronounced whole grain flavor, opt for traditional whole wheat flour. Or, if you’re easing into baking with whole grains, choose white whole wheat flour for a subtler flavor and lighter color.
I like using 2 cups (227g) of white whole wheat in place of 2 cups (240g) of all-purpose flour in our Hamburger or Hotdog Buns recipe. This swap results in buns that are tender, slightly nutty in flavor, caramel-colored, and hard to resist.
3. Make perfect-sized buns
Dividing the dough into individual buns is a critical point in any hamburger bun recipe. Shape your dough too small and your burger might fall out, or the bun might crumble. Too large and you’ll end up with a sandwich that feels like it's mostly bread.
So what’s the perfect size?
For standard-sized burger buns, use about 85g to 100g of dough per bun. (If you’re looking for a more substantial serving, opt for 100g per bun.)
For those of you who don't have a scale, 100g of dough is roughly 1/3 cup, about the size of a plum. 85g of dough is a scant 1/3 cup, about the size of an average clementine.
At some point, you might want to make something other than a regular-sized burger bun — say, slider buns or buns that can support quarter-pound burgers. In those cases, you'll want to adjust the amount of dough you use.
Use these guidelines to help divide your dough into the right portions:
For buns baked in our Hamburger Bun and Mini Pie Pan: Use 125g dough per bun a scant 1/2 cup, about the size of a baseball.
For slider-sized buns: Use 65g dough per bun a heaped 1/4 cup dough, the size of a pool ball.
For mini picnic buns (like these cute-sized buns): Use 35g dough per bun a scant 1/4 cup dough, the size of a golf ball.
Remember that the dough will almost double in size after rising and baking, so make your dough balls smaller than you might initially think they should be. They'll end up being just right.
4. Use the right pan
You have options when it comes to pans for baking your homemade burger buns.
If you want perfectly shaped buns, use our Hamburger Bun and Mini Pie Pan. This pan makes buns that are perfectly round and rise high. (Bonus: You can do a lot more with this pan than just make burger buns. See our post How to use a bun pan for inspiration.)
Don’t want to use a specialty pan? That’s OK — here are some additional options:
8” or 9” square pan or 9” round cake pan: Each fits four standard-sized buns
9” x 13” pan: Fits six standard-sized buns
Half sheet pan: Fits nine standard-sized buns
5. Space the buns carefully
The way you arrange the dough in your pans will affect your final product. If you place the buns about 1” apart from each other, the edges of the buns will touch slightly after rising. This creates a tear-and-share effect, and the final buns will have soft edges.
If you want the edges to be golden brown, leave at least 3” between the buns so they don’t come together during baking. The final buns will be nice and round, as well as a bit sturdier than the soft-sided version.
6. Brush with an egg wash
After the burger buns are shaped and proofed (fully risen), egg wash the tops of the buns right before baking. This will make the buns shiny and deep golden brown, and will help your topping stick.
To make a standard egg wash, mix 1 large egg with 1 tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt. (The salt helps break up the protein strands and makes the mixture more homogeneous.) Gently brush the tops of the risen buns with the egg wash.
After brushing the buns with egg wash, sprinkle the topping of your choice evenly over the buns. I like using Everything Bagel Topping, but sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and flax seeds are all fantastic options too.
Without the egg wash and seedy topping, homemade burger buns look lackluster, so I encourage you to not skip this step.
7. Don’t steam the bottoms
The buns will come out of the oven looking beautiful and your kitchen will smell amazing — promise! Don’t get distracted by the tantalizing smell or the urge to take an Instagram picture before you remove the freshly baked buns from the pan.
If you let the hot buns sit in the pan, their bottoms will steam and become soggy. This makes for fragile burger buns that are likely to fall apart when split and filled.
Take the buns out of the pan and allow to cool completely on a rack before slicing or serving.
8. Slice just before using
Speaking of slicing — hold off on cutting your burger buns in half until as close to serving as possible. Burger buns will dry out quickly as soon as the interior crumb is exposed.
Store your buns in an airtight container at room temperature to keep them soft. Cut in half with a serrated knife just before you’re ready to use them.
9. Griddle leftovers with butter
End up with leftover buns? You just might have some extras if you use our Hamburger or Hotdog Buns recipe, since it produces a large batch of burger buns.
You can elevate leftovers by brushing the cut halves of the burger buns with melted butter (or mayo — trust me, it works) and griddling them until toasted. The buns will be revived in a glorious, buttery form. You just might want to eat one all on its own — they’re that delicious.
10. Get ahead by freezing
This last tip is one you need to know if you like to plan (and bake) ahead. Homemade burger buns can be frozen at two points in the process to save some time later.
You can follow the instructions outlined in our blog post Freeze and bake if you'd like to freeze unbaked buns. (In short: skip the first rise and go straight to dividing and shaping the buns, then freeze.)
Or you can follow the recipe from start to finish, let the buns cool completely, and then freeze. The buns should be well-wrapped and stored in the freezer for up to a month. If you thaw and then rewarm your homemade burger buns before serving, no one will ever know they were frozen.
Bonus: Baking gluten-free?
If you’re baking gluten-free, follow the directions in our blog post Gluten-free cookout recipes. You'll learn how to transform our Gluten-Free Dinner Rolls recipe into burger buns that everyone can enjoy.
Homemade hamburger buns are the way to go
Whether you use your homemade buns for hamburgers, veggie burgers, pulled pork, portobello mushrooms, or any other filling, we’re sure your buns will set your sandwich apart.
Photo by Liz Neily
Remember these 10 tips for making the very best homemade hamburger buns. Soon you’ll be the star of the cookout — it's true!
Use our Hamburger or Hotdog Buns recipe for your next cookout (whether it's indoors or out), and rate and review it at the bottom of the recipe page, if you like.
Want to share more? We'd love to hear about your best burger bun baking experiences in the comments, below.
How to Make Hamburger Buns
- Dough. I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer to make the dough but you can always do it by hand. After your dough has risen, divide it into 8 pieces. This hamburger bun recipe makes 8 good size buns.
- Proofing Yeast. If you needs some tips and hints on how to proof yeast be sure and check out this post.
- Form Buns Shape each piece of dough into a round slightly flattened ball. You want them round on top and flat on the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or so. Beat one egg and use a brush to give each bun a nice egg wash. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds if desired and they are ready to go into the oven.
- Bake in a 400 degree F oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Aren’t they pretty!? The best part is they are delicious too. They are so good in fact, I usually eat one or two without the hamburger! If you are grilling hot dogs instead of hamburgers just shape the dough into a hot dog shape for homemade hot dog buns. I also use this same dough to make slider buns.
Pretzel Hamburger Buns | Make your own Pretzel Hamburger Buns just like restaurant style buns but better. Nothings better than a homemade bun and these buns do not disappoint. Whenever there’s a pretzel hamburger bun on a menu I always order it. Now I can have them at home too!
These pretzel hamburger buns were so easy to make. BE BRAVE! Don’t let making bread scare you. It really is quite easy and well worth it. These pretzel hamburger buns are so tender and add another layer of flavor to your burger. Come on you can do it. Try it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Transform a simple burger into a masterpiece by adding a homemade pretzel hamburger bun! Or choose from some of my favorite burger recipes. LOADED CHILI CHEESEBURGERS, FIRECRACKER BURGERS AND PHILLY CHEESE BURGER.
Let dough rise to double.
Homemade Hamburger Buns – Classic & Big Mac “Club”
Why make your own Hamburger Buns when you can just go to the store and buy them?
The recipe for my Homemade Hamburger Buns came out necessity. I wanted to recreate “Big Macs” at home but couldn’t find store-bought buns that would work. Either too small or too big. All of which had loads of ingredients that I don’t have in my pantry or want to feed to my family or friends.
I wanted a bun that could hold up to my vision of a “Big Mac Sesame Seed Bun.” Tall enough to split into 3 even layers (the crown, the club, and the heel), sturdy enough to hold up to all fillings, and tender enough to not get in the way of the texture of the 2 beef hamburger patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, onions, and pickles. Allowing the marriage of all the parts to come together for a delightful dining experience. Check out my blog post “Homemade “Big Mac” – Including the Special Sauce! to make your own.
The ingredient and their proportion are key to creating a Hamburger Bun that has the right flavor, texture, and body. I recommend with all baking recipes to use a scale to weigh out the ingredients. That ensures your success when baking. Also note: “THIS IS A STICKY DOUGH!”So don’t panic and add any extra flour. The dough will develop strength as you knead, stretch, and fold it.
I looked for baking forms for the Big Mac “Club” Bun online. All were too small and cost way too much for this endeavor. Luckily there is “YouTube.” After some research, I found “ChefSteps” YouTube channel which showed how to make your own Aluminum Foil Forms. Click here to check out their video “Foil Rings.” Making my Foil Rings taller and larger in diameter to hold the 125 grams of dough. I also lined the Aluminum Forms with Parchment Paper Collars. Making it easy for the buns to release from the pan and forms.
UPDATE: I have found the perfect size baking pans for baking the Big Mac “Club” Buns in. Here is the link to purchase them on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2JJBxwj
As with all baking recipes I recommend you weigh the ingredients for the Homemade Hamburger and Big Mac “Club” Buns. Weighing ensures you have a consistent dough each and every time. As bakers, we are always striving to remove any variables from the process of baking.
- 8 Quart Mixing Bowl
- Rubber Spatula
- Plastic Scraper/Metal Bench Scraper
- Measuring Cups and Spoons or an Electronic Scale
- Plastic Wrap
- Non-stick Spray/Oil
- 2 – Half Sheet trays lined with Parchment Paper
- 6 Aluminum Baking Rings 1-½” tall x 4-½ diameter (4cm x 11.5cm) (Click to learn how here!)
- 6 Parchment Paper Collars 1-¾” tall x 16″ long (4.5cm x 40cm)
- Pastry Brush
Hamburger Buns (yields 12)
- Measured Weight Grams Ingredients
- ¾ cup 0.38 lb. 180 g. Water (room temp.)
- 2 tsp. 0.02 lb. 8 g. Instant Yeast
- ¾ cup 0.38 lb. 180 g. Whole Milk (room temp.)
- ¼ cup 0.15 lb. 70 g. Canola Oil (or vegetable)
- 4 each 4 each 227 g. Eggs (large, room temp.)
- ¼ cup 0.12 lb. 55 g. Granulated Sugar
- 5-¾ cups 1.73 lb. 800 g. Bread Flour (King Arthur)
- 2-½ tsp. 0.04 lb. 18 g. Sea Salt (fine)
- ¼ cup Natural Sesame Seeds for Topping the Buns
Mixing the dough:
- In the mixing bowl combine the water, instant yeast, whole milk, canola oil, eggs, granulated sugar, and half of the bread flour. Using a rubber spatula, stir the ingredients together until it forms a thick batter.
- Add the remaining bread flour and sea salt mixture to the mixing bowl and fold the ingredients together until the dough become a shaggy mass.
- Scrape down the spatula and the sides of the bowl with a plastic scraper. Scrap the dough out of the bowl and on the work surface. The dough will be sticky. Do not add any flour to the work surface while kneading.
- Knead the dough with one hand while using your plastic scrape to gather the dough from the work surface and your hand. Kneading for 4 minutes to incorporate the ingredients and develop the gluten.
- After 4 minutes of kneading the dough will be strong enough to start stretching and folding using the plastic scrape.
- Stretch and fold the dough for 6 – 8 minutes or until the dough become smooth and elastic. The dough should be strong enough to pull away from the table in one piece. The dough will be slightly sticky at the end of the kneading process.
- Lightly spray or coat the mixing bowl with vegetable oil.
- Form the dough into a ball and place it into the oiled mixing bowl. Turn the dough over in the oil to lightly coat the dough.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let ferment for 1 hour at room temperature 70°F-76°F (21°C – 23°C). The dough will grow 1 time the original size.
- Uncover the bowl and turn the dough onto a lightly oiled work surface.
- Fold the dough in 3rds from top to bottom and left to right.
- Place the folded dough back into the bowl that has been lightly sprayed or oiled. Lightly spray or oil the top of the dough.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let ferment for 1 hour at room temperature 70°F-76°F (21°C – 23°C). The dough will grow 1-½ times the original size.
Pre-shaping, Final Shaping, and Proofing the buns:
- After 1 hour. Uncover the bowl and turn the dough onto a lightly oiled work surface. Deflate the dough lightly with your hands.
- Using a bench scraper divide the dough into 12 pieces each weighing 125 grams.
- Shaping each piece into a tight round ball, place on a lightly oiled surface and lightly coat the tops with oil, and loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap. You can use a half sheet tray for this step if you don’t have the counter space.
- Rest and ferment the pieces of dough at room temperature for 15 minutes. (The resting period is import to allow the final shaping of the buns into a tight round without tearing the surface)
- After 15 minutes, uncover the rounded dough and lightly sprinkle the tops with flour.
- Reshape each bun into a tight round and place 6 buns on to a half sheet tray that has been lined with parchment paper. Leaving at least 4 inches of space between the buns. . Making each ring 1-½” tall by 4-½” diameter (4cm x 11.5cm).
- Evenly space the Aluminum Forms on the parchment paper and line each form with a parchment paper collar. Place the remaining 6 buns into each form.
- Lightly spray with oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
- Proof the Hamburger Buns for 1-½ hours or until tripled in size.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) for 20 minutes before baking
Homemade Soft Hamburger Buns
The perfect burger needs the perfect bun and these homemade soft hamburger buns will not disappoint! They take a couple of hours to rise, but that's unattended time and the payoff is a delicious, soft and the perfect vehicle for your best burger.
The Perfect Hamburger Bun
Not every burger is perfect. In fact, not every burger is even very good. Burgers tend to be one of those meals that are so common to all of us, that often the details get overlooked and you just make a burger. I’m here to tell you that you can take your average burger, pay attention to the details and make that burger great. After building the burger patty – either with the traditional method or the smash burger method – the most important part of a burger is the bun, and there’s nothing better than homemade soft hamburger buns.
Brioche-Like Burger Buns
It may seem over-the-top to make your own hamburger buns, but it’s not difficult and they do make such a difference to that final delicious sandwich. The perfect hamburger bun has an even crumb so that you can toast it evenly and add nice even spread of your favorite condiments. It should also be soft enough to bite into so you don’t tear or tug at that burger. Finally, it needs to be delicious all on its own. These homemade buns have all three qualities because of the addition of butter, egg and milk. They are somewhat similar to a brioche dough, but without nearly as much fat.
How to Make Homemade Soft Hamburger Buns
Making these homemade soft hamburger buns basically entails stirring the ingredients together in a bowl, kneading the dough a little and letting it rise before shaping and baking. You will notice that this recipe calls for instant yeast (or fast-acting yeast), as opposed to active dry yeast. Instant yeast is a more concentrated form of yeast that is milled into smaller granules. It’s easier to use than active dry yeast because it can be mixed right into dry ingredients, rather than having to proof the yeast in liquid before adding other ingredients. If active dry yeast is what you have, then not to worry – you can still use it. Just increase the quantity to 1 tablespoon OR let the dough rise for a little longer than you would otherwise. You can ready all about how to convert different types of yeast here.
Grating in Butter
If you’re using a stand mixer to mix your dough, cut the butter into tiny chunks and just throw it in a little at a time as the dough hook turns. If you’re making this dough by hand, freeze the butter for 10 minutes or so and then grate it into your flour mixture. This creates chunks of butter that are the perfect size and they will disappear into the dough as you knead.
Kneading Dough by Hand
Mixing and kneading the dough by hand is not really a big deal, unless you have dexterity issues. Start by folding the dough over on itself in a bowl, picking up all traces of dry flour. Then tip it out onto the counter with a little flour and push the dough away from you with the heel of your hand, fold the far end towards you over on itself, give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Continue to knead until the dough is soft and smooth.
How to Tell if you’ve Kneaded Enough
You’ll know when the dough has been kneaded enough by stretching a small piece of the dough with your fingers. If it rips, it needs more kneading. Once you can stretch it apart without it tearing, you’re ready to let the dough rise.
The first rise should take 1½ to 2 hours, but it really depends on your room environment – the warmer the room, the faster the dough will rise. Instead of timing the dough, judge the timing by how the dough looks. Once the dough has doubled in bulk, it’s ready to be divided and shaped.
How to Adjust Size of Buns
Cutting the dough into 8 portions will give you buns that fit a burger perfectly, but you may choose to make these buns smaller depending on how you are going to use them. If you’re making sliders, for example, you’ll want to divide the dough into 24 little portions and bake for a shorter period of time – about 12 to 15 minutes in the oven. Once the dough portions have been cut, tuck all the cut sides of the dough underneath, leaving a smooth surface on top. Place the dough on the counter and cup your hand over it. Move your cupped hand with the dough inside in a circle on the countertop to seal the loose ends on the underside. Place each ball on a greased baking sheet and press it down to flatten it a little.
Sesame Seed Hamburger Buns
The classic burger bun has sesame seeds on top, but that’s entirely up to you. Maybe you’ve never liked those sesame seeds, in which case, leave them off. These are just as delicious with or without the sesame seeds. What is important, however is the egg and milk wash that goes on top. This is what will give you the dark brown shiny color that makes these buns look bakery-shop perfect.
How to Store
Of course, there’s nothing like enjoying a homemade soft hamburger bun on the day it is made, but unless you’re making 8 burgers you’ll have some leftovers. You can store these in an airtight bag at room temperature over night or in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze the buns for up to 3 months, which means you’ll have a homemade burger bun any time you like! You never know when you might need the perfect burger bun, after all.